Two bomb explosions yesterday rocked the busy Terminus Market in the New Abuja Market area of Jos, the Plateau state capital, killing dozens of people.
An eye-witness, Peter Amine, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that first explosion went off in the centre of the market, while the second followed about 14 minutes later, adding that the incident occurred during peak business hour.
He said that a thick dark smoke engulfed the scene, thus compounding the already chaotic situation as horror-stricken persons ran in all directions.
“We were inside the market when I heard a loud explosion at about 3:28pm; and before I knew what happened, a vehicle part landed just by my legs”, Amine said.
There were however, conflicting reports over the casualty figure. The Plateau state Police Commissioner, Chris Olakpe, said 46 persons were killed in the twin blasts, but some residents said the death toll could exceed 100.
Olakpe also told newsmen that 45 others were injured in the blasts. According to him, the first bomber came in a Fiat bus and parked at the market’s central business area.
“The second blast, which was concealed in a Siena bus, happened 100 metres away from the first one”, he said.
Olakpe said that the casualty figures were collated after visits to Plateau Specialist Hospital and Bingham Hospital, Jos.
“Like I told you, there should be more because we have not gone to the new and old Jos University Teaching Hospitals”, he further explained.
Olapke said that the market had been cordoned off and urged members of the public to steer away from the affected place in their own interest.
“Men of our anti-bomb unit will comb the market before it is declared safe for business activities to continue”, he said.
He advised members of the public to always avoid the temptation of rushing to bomb scenes, adding that people around such scenes should quickly lie down for “at least 30 minutes” before scurrying to safety.
“We also expect people to promptly report any suspicious character to the security agencies”, he stressed.
Plateau state’s Information Commissioner, Olivia Dazyam, told newsmen in Jos that: “Full investigation has begun on the incident. But we want people to be calm and pray, especially for the victims.
“We also want everyone to support the authorities in these trying times”, she stressed.
Meanwhile, condemning the explosions, President Goodluck Jonathan described the perpetrators as “cruel and evil”, saying that his administration will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization.
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who also condemned the blasts, described them as acts of cowardice that have no place in civilised societies.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the president, Reuben Abati, the president has directed all relevant agencies to mobilise support and relief efforts in aid of the victims, just as he extends his heartfelt sympathies to the affected families and persons.
It added that Jonathan assures all Nigerians that government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, the speaker urged security agencies to redouble their efforts, so as to fish out perpetrators of the attacks. He equally appealed to members of the public to provide the security agencies with useful information that would help the investigations.
He further urged Nigerians not to despair, saying the current security challenges bedevilling the nation will soon be a thing of the past.
Jos has seen several deadly clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in recent years. However, though Boko Haram has previously targeted Jos, the Plateau state capital, the city has been relatively calm for almost two years.